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e-3653 (Health)

E-petition
Initiated by Nikolas Barry-Shaw from Montreal, Quebec

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • Ending the global COVID-19 pandemic once and for all requires ensuring the vaccination of as many people around the world as quickly and safely as possible;
  • Pharmaceutical companies have consistently put profits before saving lives, restricting supply to low-income countries and leaving 96% of people there unvaccinated;
  • The Government of Bolivia has an agreement with a Canadian injectable drug manufacturer, Biolyse Pharma, to produce and export 15 million doses using a patented vaccine formula, which could help greatly accelerate vaccination efforts;
  • Under Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), Canadian generic pharmaceutical manufacturers can obtain a compulsory licence to produce and export lower cost versions of patented medicines to developing countries, in the event of a public health emergency;
  • The Government of Canada has so far refused to add COVID-19 vaccines to the Schedule 1 list of essential medicines of the Patent Act, which would allow Biolyse to produce vaccines under CAMR; and
  • This refusal contradicts the Government of Canada’s stated commitment to treat the COVID-19 vaccine as a global public good.
We, the undersigned, people of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Increase the accessibility of COVID-19 vaccines by facilitating the manufacturing of generic vaccines here in Canada and around the world;
2. Add COVID-19 vaccines and health products to Schedule 1 of the Patent Act, thereby authorizing manufacturing of vaccines through CAMR; and
3. Support a temporary waiver of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on COVID-19 vaccines as well as diagnostics, therapeutics, and other medical products at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Response by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): THE HON. FRANÇOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE

The Government of Canada would like to thank the petition signatories for expressing their concerns regarding global access to COVID-19 vaccines.

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government recognizes that none of us are safe until all of us are safe. To this end, we must do all we can to encourage and enable people everywhere to be vaccinated.

While global production capacity is increasing every month, bringing new sources of supply online remains challenging. Vaccines are complex products that require specialized production facilities and access to often scarce manufacturing inputs. In-demand expert technicians are also frequently required to supervise vaccine production and related technology transfer activities. When a new vaccine is produced, it must then undergo rigorous testing to establish that it is safe and effective.

While these supply challenges are significant, the Government is committed to meeting them. Canada recently launched its Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy which will support Canada’s long-term pandemic resilience and promote growth in our domestic life-sciences sector. Collectively, Canada’s targeted investments in biomanufacturing, such as through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), foundational funding in skills and talent, and the National Research Council’s new Biologics Manufacturing Centre (BMC), will enhance Canada’s capacity for vaccine manufacturing, especially during public health emergencies in Canada. The BMC, once completed, will also serve as a foundational element for a proposed broader network of federal capabilities and public assets to respond to future pandemics or other health priorities. Some of these additional capabilities include the following:

  • Sector-specific skills development and hands-on training; 
  • Physical research and development and testing infrastructure, with an emphasis on innovative technologies; 
  • Global and domestic supply chain assets specific to mRNA, subunit and viral vector vaccine manufacturing and distribution; 
  • Foreign and direct investment attraction, with a specific focus on the incubation and acceleration of small and medium-sized enterprises and the commercialization of new therapeutics; 
  • Focused and full-sector collaboration to further enhance Canada’s industrial strength and emergency preparedness. 

While this important work is ongoing, the Government is committed to simultaneously pursuing practical, near-term solutions to rapidly increase global vaccine access and address the urgency of the moment, especially for low- and middle-income countries. To this end:

  • The Government has significantly invested in helping procure vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Canada actively supports the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its vaccines pillar, the COVAX Facility. The ACT-Accelerator is the world’s most comprehensive, multilateral platform for the procurement and rapid distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. To date, Canada has announced a total of $1.3 billion to support the ACT-Accelerator’s efforts to ensure access to key medical interventions for low- and middle-income countries and is a leading donor to this global collaborative effort.
  • The Government has also committed to sharing Canada’s own supply of vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Canada has committed to donate the equivalent of at least 200 million doses to the COVAX Facility by the end of 2022. This includes over 50 million donated vaccine doses deemed surplus from Canada’s domestic procurements, financial contributions to the COVAX Facility that have supported the procurement of approximately 87 million vaccine doses, and potential future donations of doses and further financial contributions.
  • Canada is also engaged in reducing barriers to new supply. Canada is actively working with other World Trade Organization (WTO) Members and international partners to identify barriers and solutions to accessing vaccines and other medical products, such as those relating to supply chain constraints and export restrictions. In addressing these challenges, Canada remains actively committed to the work of the WTO Declaration on Trade and Health to strengthen global supply chains and facilitate the trade and the delivery of essential medicines and medical supplies, including vaccines, around the world.

With respect to intellectual property (IP), the Government supports WTO Members’ right to use provisions in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to protect public health and promote access to medicines for all. Understanding that some countries question the adequacy of these provisions, the Government has also affirmed that it is ready to discuss proposals for an IP waiver, in particular for COVID-19 vaccines, under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, and remains committed to finding solutions and reaching an agreement that accelerates global vaccine production and does not negatively impact public health. Canada continues to work closely with all WTO Members, including engaging on proposals from any WTO Member or group, in seeking a consensus-based outcome to address any IP challenges created by COVID-19.

Response by the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Arif Virani

The Government of Canada would like to thank the petition signatories for expressing their concerns regarding global access to COVID-19 vaccines.

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government recognizes that none of us are safe until all of us are safe. To this end, we must do all we can to encourage and enable people everywhere to be vaccinated.

While global production capacity is increasing every month, bringing new sources of supply online remains challenging. Vaccines are complex products that require specialized production facilities and access to often scarce manufacturing inputs. In-demand expert technicians are also frequently required to supervise vaccine production and related technology transfer activities. When a new vaccine is produced, it must then undergo rigorous testing to establish that it is safe and effective.

While these supply challenges are significant, the Government is committed to meeting them. Canada recently launched its Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy which will support Canada’s long-term pandemic resilience and promote growth in our domestic life-sciences sector. Collectively, Canada’s targeted investments in biomanufacturing, such as through the Strategic Innovation Fund, foundational funding in skills and talent, and the National Research Council’s new Biologics Manufacturing Centre (BMC), will enhance Canada’s capacity for vaccine manufacturing, especially during public health emergencies in Canada. The BMC, once completed, will also serve as a foundational element for a proposed broader network of federal capabilities and public assets to respond to future pandemics or other health priorities. Some of these additional capabilities include the following:

•            Sector-specific skills development and hands-on training;

•            Physical research and development and testing infrastructure, with an emphasis on innovative technologies;

•            Global and domestic supply chain assets specific to mRNA, subunit and viral vector vaccine manufacturing and distribution;

•            Foreign and direct investment attraction, with a specific focus on the incubation and acceleration of small and medium-sized enterprises and the commercialization of new therapeutics;

•            Focused and full-sector collaboration to further enhance Canada’s industrial strength and emergency preparedness.

While this important work is ongoing, the Government is committed to simultaneously pursuing practical, near-term solutions to rapidly increase global vaccine access and address the urgency of the moment, especially for low-and middle-income countries. To this end, the Government has significantly invested in helping procure vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Canada actively supports the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its vaccines pillar, the COVAX Facility. The ACT-Accelerator is the world’s most comprehensive, multilateral platform for the procurement and rapid distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. To date, Canada has announced a total of $1.3 billion to support the ACT-Accelerator’s efforts to ensure access to key medical interventions for low- and middle-income countries and is a leading donor to this global collaborative effort.

The Government has also committed to sharing Canada’s own supply of vaccines with low and-middle-income countries. Canada has committed to donate the equivalent of at least 200 million doses to the COVAX Facility by the end of 2022. This includes over 50 million donated vaccine doses deemed surplus from Canada’s domestic procurements, financial contributions to the COVAX Facility that have supported the procurement of approximately 87 million vaccine doses, and potential future donations of doses and further financial contributions.

Canada is also working with other World Trade Organization (WTO) Members and international partners to identify barriers and solutions to accessing vaccines and other medical products, such as those relating to supply chain constraints and export restrictions.  Canada is actively working with other WTO Members, notably by leading the Ottawa Group, to reach a multilateral outcome on trade and health that includes trade-facilitating measures on export restrictions, customs clearance issues, transparency, and sharing of best practices between public and private sectors as expressed in the WTO Declaration on Trade and Health, as well as discussions on intellectual property (IP) particular to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.

With respect to IP, the Government has always been, and will always be, a strong advocate for vaccine equity. Understanding that some countries have expressed concerns in respect of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the Government has always been clear that it remains committed to finding solutions and reaching an agreement that accelerates global vaccine production and does not negatively impact public health, and continues to work closely with all WTO Members, in seeking a consensus-based multilateral outcome to address any IP challenges related to COVID-19.

Open for signature
November 4, 2021, at 4:03 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
December 4, 2021, at 4:03 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski)
December 15, 2021 (Petition No. 441-00078)
Government response tabled
January 31, 2022
Photo - Niki Ashton
Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
New Democratic Party Caucus
Manitoba
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